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Monday March 19, 2001

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UA freshman dies in Rocky Point rollover

By Kevin Clerici

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The driver, an ASU freshman, dies at UMC

A University of Arizona freshman, along with an Arizona State University student, died last week of injuries suffered when the truck they were traveling in rolled on a dirt road in Rocky Point (Puerto Peľasco), Mexico.

Undeclared freshman Ross Hunter White, 19, known as Hunter to his friends, died at the scene around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The driver, Derek D. Skarecky, 19, an Arizona State University freshman, suffered serious injuries and was first shuttled to the U.S. border, then air-lifted to University Medical Center.

Skarecky died Thursday morning at the hospital, said Kate Jensen, UMC spokeswoman.

Mexican authorities said the 1995 Chevy Tahoe was speeding on a long, desert road leading to Las Conchas, an upscale condominium development, at around 1 a.m. when Skarecky lost control and then tried to overcorrect the vehicle.

The vehicle rolled about 90 feet. Neither man was wearing a seat belt, said Puerto Peľasco investigator Francisco Cordova.

Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. Bottles of alcohol were found in the vehicle, he said.

Skarecky and White both graduated from Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix last year. They were friends since kindergarten, said Ross Fippinger, White's fraternity brother.

Fippinger described White as a funny, outgoing, popular member of Arizona's chapter of Phi Gamma Delta.

"He was a nice kid to everybody. A good guy to have around," said Fippinger, a regional development sophomore.

Fippinger was among a group of roughly 20 UA students staying with White and Skarecky in beach houses at Puerto Peľasco, also known as Rocky Point, on the night of the accident.

"They were going from one party to another, and going too fast on one of the desert roads," Fippinger said. "It was a shock when we found out. They didn't have seat belts on. Hunter was probably flung 30 feet flung from the truck."

The fatalities are believed to be the first of this year's spring break. The crash was one of about 30 the Red Cross in Puerto Peľasco has responded to since the spring break season started this month.

Students can legally drink alcohol at age 18 in Mexico, as opposed to Arizona's minimum age of 21.

"It was a pretty scary night," said Scott Creith, a regional development sophomore and FIJI member who had also been vacationing with the two men. "A lot of people were shaken up, especially his (White's) girlfriend. They had been dating for a couple of years. Everyone was hysterical."

Creith said the remaining members of the group returned to Tucson the following day. Services for White were held Friday.

White is survived by a brother and sister and his parents, William and Nancy.

Skarecky is survived by his father, Dennis; his mother, Bobbi, and his sister, Denise.